Second wave of revolution

Kolakowski, Marcin Mateusz (1997) Second wave of revolution. Architektura & Biznes, 65 (12). pp. 12-17. ISSN 1230-1817

Second Wave of Revolution [A&B 1997]

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For a quarter of a century, high-tech architects have formed themselves into an exclusive club claiming the sole right to dictate the valid trends of contemporary architecture. However, one of their founding fathers, Renzo Piano, has long been creating buildings that veer away from the high-tech ideology; and nowhere is this more apparent than in Amsterdam’s biggest contemporary building, NewMetropolis, opened by the Queen of the Netherlands in July this year.
Piano is somewhat less of a slave to technology than some would like to believe. He says of himself: "I always start from zero, and the adventure and pleasure of discovery is dearer to me than having my own style. We have certain capabilities at our disposal; the rest is injected by the site itself.” NewMetropolis, the Centre for Science and Technology (begun in November 1995), is indeed in a unique location—on the Oosterdok in the heart of Eu¬rope’s capital of avant-garde architecture. The 77.5m investment towers above the mouth of the IJ tunnel, a stone’s throw from the station in the heart of the mu-seum quarter. The Genuan architect has always been particularly attentive to urban context, a fact which won him the prestigious competition for Berlin’s Potsdammer-platz, and this building, too, has certainly enhanced its en¬vironment. A clever architectural joke balances out the ef¬fect of the tunnel—where cars disappear underground, people climb toward the clouds up an imposing ramp to an extraordinary little square perched high on the roof of the museum.
It may seem that such metaphors as ramps sit uneasily with a high-tech background, but one need only look at the Jules Verne fantasy of the Centre Pompidou, for ex¬ample, to see that allegory has always played an important part in Piano's work. In the 208m long NewMetropolis the Oosterdok now has another vessel that the nearby Maritime Museum can be proud of.
Piano has avoided using gleaming nickel and glass for the 3750m2 facade and has chosen instead muted oxidised sheet copper complemented by a clinker-brick finish which in its allusion to the “high-tech” Gothic style acknowledges the superiority of the human intellect over bleeping, flashing computer-game technology. This is an architect who is not afraid of experimenting with materials and does not shy away from difficult architec¬tural problems.
Coming from a background of master builders has given him experience in dealing with such problems as this: the tight waterfront location meant the 440-tonne steel structure had to be erected using specially adapted ships. The building is interesting from every angle, being asymmetrical; and the oval line is broken in several places by offsets, glass roofs, slits exposing the interior, and by the great bulk of the cinema which thrusts its way forward. The interior of this great, green ship is equally unorthodox. The keyword here is space. You are fascinated at once by the staircase which cascades down into the dark interior. The influence of the high-tech can be seen in the minimalist framework style, perfectly suited to a museum with constantly changing exhibitions. The upper three of the four floors are cut away like the wide sweep of a bay so that from any one point you can see all the other parts of the museum. This openness bears out the philosophy of making knowledge accessible to all which is the museum’s guiding principle. It aims to provide a link between formal and informal education, and between all spheres of knowledge, and to this end co¬operates closely with scientific, educational, industrial and governmental institutions. The hands-on approach to learning which it promotes has given it the reputation of being at the forefront of the “second wave of the intellectual revolution.” Its 4300m2 of exhibition space are divided into technology, energy, interaction, the human being and science, and everything is there to be touched, tried and tested.

Subjects:K Architecture, Building and Planning > K200 Building
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K110 Architectural Design Theory
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K210 Building Technology
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K100 Architecture
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Architecture)
ID Code:18015
Deposited On:27 Jul 2015 14:04

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